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Salt Creek Science Fair Puts First Grade Experiments to the Test

Projects or displays put together by dual language students across CCSD59 often go beyond the surface level. It is the result of multiple lessons and applications rolled into one.

On Wednesday, February 27, first-grade dual language students at Salt Creek Elementary showed off their scientific skills at their own science fair. The 37 students have been working in Spanish studying structures and their functions since November and had the opportunity to show their peers, friends, and family members how they were becoming scientists.

There were many components of learning that culminated in the science fair. The dual language students explored scientific processes through experiments of building boats and parachutes while applying this knowledge to other structures. They learned the vocabulary they needed in two languages to support their project, studied nonfiction texts in reading and writing workshops, learned about gathering facts, conducted research, wrote their own accompanying nonfiction texts, and created a visual display to show what they learned.

Since the students were able to select a topic of interest for their project, there was a wide range of topics. Favorite animals, locations, foods, and weather were enthusiastically explained by the students to any attending guests willing to listen in the three classrooms that displayed their work.

Heather Iatomasi, a first grade dual language teacher at Salt Creek, said the large scope of the assignment provided the students with a lot of enjoyment while they learned.

“This is the culmination of multiple units of study that were integrated to enhance experience and understanding of the topics presented,” she said. “The students were able to flex their creative muscles, work together in cooperative groups, build structures and learn why they failed or succeeded, and research a subject they had a great interest in.”

Iatomasi added how impressed she was of the students and how they used their excitement and interest to form their work.

“They were very creative in building their own structures and used everything they learned to express their knowledge in multiple formats,” she said.

Claudia Lamas, who also teaches first grade dual language at Salt Creek, echoed the sentiment.

“I am proud of their use of their creativity and problem solving skills.There were some hurdles to overcome, but everyone worked through them and it resulted in some great projects.”

Among the student presenters was Alexandra, a first grader, whose project was a miniature pirate ship. She said that, while she enjoyed the entire process, she was most delighted to share the work with her family.

Lilah, another student, created a handmade mechanism that included a ramp, a block, and a water bottle to water plants. Her classmate, Nayeli, said she did plenty of research on California because: “It’s just my favorite part of the whole United States.”

From here, students will use the same processes learned to observe changes in their projects. The effects of the exercise are already showing as several students have expressed interest in reading more books in their free time to gain even more information.

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